No ifs, no buts, everyone loves a Mk2 Escort. Whether your passion for Ford’s mid ’70s mid range star stems from childhood memories watching the likes of Ari Vatanen and Roger Clark’s giant killing in the British woods, formative years spent tinkering with Pintos and Crossflows, or merely an appreciation of a damn fun car, the Mk2 is a fully paid up British automotive icon.
The only downside to build a car like the Mk2 Escort, at least from a Retropower perspective, is how best to set about spinning a unique slant on it, particularly as so many have been so creatively modified over the years. This was the (pleasing) challenge which greeted us when the time came to build a Mk2 for Leo, though we could at least begin with a running car in a fairly solid condition – at least that’s what we initially believed.
The traditional Retropower strip-down soon revealed the Escort to be hiding a little more in terms of rot than it would initially have had us believe, with the inner arches in a particular bad way, largely as expanding foam had been used to hold them to the body! Shot-blasting gave rust nowhere to hide however, and it wasn’t too long before we were able to begin adding fresh steel where required. A fresh coat of Ford Signal Orange was then added alongside a set of 1600 Sport decals.
More engines have been slung into the noses of Mk2 Escorts that pretty much any comparable classic car so actually doing something totally unique was both tricky and unnecessary, which is why we ended up selecting the C20XE, or the ‘Redtop’ as it’s almost universally known. We eventually gave said motor a complete strip-down and rebuild, adding a set of Jenvey direct to head throttle bodies and DTA ‘standalone’ management at the same time, additions which eventually saw peak power rise to a potent 220bhp – plenty in a car of this nature.
Said power output was routed through a rebuilt Type 9 gearbox, with a five-linked Atlas axle mounted at the rear of the car.
The fuel system already in situ was never going to be up to the task of keeping the thirsty XE well fed with fuel, which was a concern, particularly given the car’s intended, track-based usage. We therefore came to the conclusion that a comprehensively overhauled setup was required, hence the alloy tank now mounted in the boot, alongside a Bosch 044 pump and associated braided lines.
The Escort’s chassis also received some TLC in readiness for a life spent cutting apexes and late braking, hence the decision to plump for Bilstein Group 4 compression struts at front and Bilstein coilovers at the rear, plus AP brake kits fore and aft.
As for the interior, well we worked with Leo to devise a functional yet effective arrangement, one centred around Sparco bucket seats and braces, a bolt-in roll-cage and various other safety measures. We also flocked the dash to help reduce glare, re-mounted the fuse box in a custom centre console panel, added one of SPA’s ‘kit dashes’ and fitted carbon fibre inserts to both the front doors and rear three-quarters.
The results of all this work speak for themselves, with the Escort proving to be among the most consistently popular of all Retropower projects. It might not have a unique engine configuration or lashings of custom fabrication, but there can be no denying that it all works.